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Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Show Me the Money—that’s what a S.C. high school student is asking the state’s highest court to do. After S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford declined millions of dollars in federal stimulus aid to schools, 18-year-old high school student Casey Edwards sued the state to have the funds handed over. Edwards, a senior, will graduate soon but believes the money is necessary to promote a high quality of education in South Carolina’s schools. Without the aid, students will be forced to accept a lower quality of education, Edwards has said, and the disparity between schools in higher income areas and poor districts will become stronger.

 

Affluent school districts will face problems, as well, without the stimulus funds in areas like staff and faculty layoffs. Some classes and programs could be axed beginning in the fall. Gov. Sanford opposes the stimulus aid as excessive government spending. Sanford believes the money, which is exclusively for education, should instead be used to reduce state debt.  

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As money pours into schools through the education appropriation of the federal stimulus bill, funding from some state and local governments is pouring out. Some states are cutting their school budgets in response to news of more federal dollars, figuring they can save their own money and instead rely more heavily on the stimulus aid to make improvements to their schools.

 

The federal money, though, is intended to be used in conjunction with state money to improve America’s education system; stashing away state money and using mostly federal dollars is a move that could undermine Washington’s initiative to keep at bay more teacher layoffs, pay cuts, school consolidations and school closings due to lack of funds. The purpose of the stimulus aid is to see states through this tough economic period and allow schools to operate effectively without additional sacrifice.

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In North Dakota schools, parents may soon pay the price for their chronically truant children, decided the state’s Senate. In a 44-3 President’s Day vote, senators approved strict amendments to a law that would combat truancy. The bill awaits its vote in the House.

 

If passed, teachers would be required to alert a school administrator to a student’s unexcused or unwarranted absence. The administrator would then be called upon to decide whether a particular student’s parents had, in any way, enabled the child’s absence. The local law enforcement agency would be required to investigate any case in which an administrator concluded a child’s parents could have but failed to prevent a student’s absence.

 

Penalties for parents can be stiff, ranging from hefty fines to jail time. Parents can face up to 30 days in jail for a first offense and might have to cough up $1,000 in fines upon a second offense.

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Legislation could soon make it more difficult for students to drop out of high school—at least in Alabama. Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr has proposed adding a year to Alabama’s legal dropout age, which would make it illegal to leave high school before the age of 17.

 

If passed, the legislation would also require students intent on dropping out to undergo an exit interview with school administrators while a parent or guardian is present. Alabama is making this move to decrease its 41 percent dropout rate. Increasing the legal age to withdraw from high school will effectively keep students in school longer, but it may not do much to strengthen their educational backgrounds and improve academic performance. That would require school officials to address the reasons behind the high dropout rate so that students can take full advantage of their education, instead of sitting in a classroom and twiddling their thumbs until their 17th birthday.

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Getting the massive $800 billion economic stimulus package approved by Congress may not be an easy sell, but approval could mean increased funding for education.  Early childhood education, K-12, special education, and school construction, among other areas, continue to struggle amid budget freezes and cuts across the country.  The aid package being worked and reworked in Congress could provide the education sector with a healthy boost.

 

Although not certain, it is likely, though, that funding allotted for education will see a substantial cut in the revised proposal for the stimulus package. Under the Senate’s original bill $120-$140 billion was set aside for education spending.  That number could drop closer to $80 billion as President Obama seeks to trim the stimulus package to appeal more widely to Congressional conservatives. 

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Bullying in Schools

Bullying is a huge problem in many schools around the country. But not all states have laws that specifically ban it, leaving it to the schools to devise measures to handle it. In August, legislation aimed at banning bullying in New York public schools reached the State Senate. While admirable, this was certainly not a groundbreaking move; many other states, including Florida, Iowa and New Jersey have implemented anti-bullying laws.

 

Although New York’s anti-bullying bill has yet to pass, the state has passed measures to curtail bullying in its public schools. Chancellor’s Regulation, A-832—a new regulation adopted by New York public schools—is meant to not only deter bullying but confront it more effectively when it is evident. The regulation addresses harassment based on race, gender, religion and many other factors.

 

Clearly, we are in a technological age, and bullying can much more easily escape school grounds with the aid of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, which at times, perpetuate cyber-bullying. For this reason it is crucial that all schools adopt measures to effectively combat bullying in all its forms.

 

Check out an earlier NSSEA blog that addressed bullying:

https://nssea.wordpress.com/2008/08/15/new-york-battles-bullying-anti-bullying-legislation-reaches-ny-state-senate/

 

For more info on Chancellor’s Regulation, A-832:

http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/mediarelations/NewsandSpeeches/2008-2009/20080903_anti_bullying.htm

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New York intends to take a bite out of bullying, prompting legislation to offer stronger protection against bullying in public schools. The anti-bullying bill was introduced in the New York State Senate by Republicans last week. The bill aims to rid bullying from schools and specifically mentions protection from bullying based on sexual orientation.

 

If passed into law, the bill would make mandatory training classes for teachers to more adequately deal with bullying, and schools would be required to keep track of all bullying cases. Eleven states have passed similar anti-bullying laws.

 

Harassment in schools may have heightened over time, due to increased numbers of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students becoming more open with their identity, said Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of a gay-rights organization called the Empire State Pride Agenda. “In a ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,’ ‘Will and Grace’ world, kids are coming out at a much younger age,” he said.

 

Whether bullying—for whatever reasons—has actually worsened over the years, or simply received increased exposure due to expanding technology, like YouTube, the legislation is a necessary step in the direction of safer schools.

 

Read the article in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/08/education/08bully.html?ref=education

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